2 Corinthians 3:1-8 is often used by Christians to show that Torah was “abolished at the cross”; and by Jewish “counter-missionaries” and their adherents to “prove” that the New Testament is full of myths and anti-Torah rhetoric, and that Y’shua couldn’t possibly be the Messiah.
Yet, the astute person who is able to view this chapter in context, recognizes that Paul constantly refers to YHWH’s Torah (Divine Instruction in Righteousness without which we would have NO blueprint for moral, holy living!).
It’s truly way past time for both Christians and Jews to start recognizing that maybe – just MAYBE – they have misunderstood the writings of Paul! Contrary to popular belief, Paul – a mere human - didn’t “change” YHWH’s Torah or attempt to negate the teachings of Mashyiach Y’shua! He merely tried to interpret into plain language the deep and often hard-to-understand Hebrew mindset and concepts.
Unfortunately, he didn’t always succeed. Peter even warned of this (2 Peter 3:15-16) by explaining that Paul’s letters had already been turned into a Torahless fiasco, even in Peter’s day! Certainly it was not the Pharisees who were renouncing Torah Observance, but the humanist, pagan and materialistic “modernists” who operated under “Christian” labels…
Having said that, let’s check out 2 Corinthians 3 in context, using the footnotes from the Aramaic English New Testament:
2 Corinthians 3:1. Do we begin again to show you who we are? Or do we need, like others, that letters of recommendation from us should be written to you? Or, that you should write recommendations of us? 2. You are our epistles, written on our hearts and known and read by every man. 3. For you know that you are an epistle of the Mashiyach, ministered by us; not written with ink, but by the Spirit of the Living Elohim; not on tablets of stone, but on the tablets of the heart of flesh.
NOTE 1: Paul is clearly referencing Jeremiah 31:33, indicating Torah is being written upon the heart. See also Ezekiel 18:31; 36:26-28.
2 Corinthians 3:4. And such confidence we have in the Mashiyach towards Elohim; 5. Not that we are sufficient to think anything, as of ourselves; but our efficiency is from Elohim: 6. Who has fitted us to be ministers of the Renewed Covenant not in the letter, but in the Spirit; for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life. 7. Now if the ministration of death was engraved upon stones in writing, and was so glorious that the children of Israel could not look on the face of Moshe on account of the glory upon his face which vanished away; 8. How then will not the ministration of the Spirit be still more glorious?
NOTE 2: Again, a reference to Jeremiah 31:33. See also Matthew 26:28.
NOTE 3: The “letter” and “Spirit” are not opposites. In verse 1 Rav Shaul begins by explaining how a “letter” in itself is not sufficient for his purposes, and how those in Corinth are not epistles written with ink, but in the Spirit of Elohim. The letter points out flaws. When we study the letter, sins of the weak flesh are exposed; our “natural” man is condemned to death to create a new birth according to YHWH’s Spirit.
Christian theology, however, teaches the “letter” refers to Torah, and that Torah is contrary to the spiritual man (which is a rather evil theology considering that mainstream Christians are already keeping over 60 percent of Torah)! Torah contains righteous directives of how to live and love, as well as the Covenant of promise that necessitates Mashiyach.
In this discourse Rav Shaul is juxtaposing condemnation as a function of the letter; he is most certainly not discrediting the Torah of YHWH as it pertains to the Spiritual Man (Romans 7:14; 8:4). Torah is the Word of YHWH: “For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this WORD you shall prolong your days in the land.” Deuteronomy 32:47
NOTE 4: Shemot/Exodus 34:29 “And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses knew not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.”
2 Corinthians 3:9. For if there was glory in the ministration of condemnation, how much more will the ministration of righteousness excel in glory? 10. For that which was glorious was as if not glorious in comparison with this which excels in glory. 11. For if that (condemnation) which is abolished was glorious, much more must, that which abides be glorious.
NOTE 5: Ministration of death is also the ministration of condemnation which comes against the sins of the carnal man. If a man steals he is condemned; if he commits adultery or lies, he is condemned when he reads the Letter.
NOTE 6: Condemnation is abolished when the Ruach haKodesh writes Torah upon the heart, which brings the end of breaking Torah! However, Christian theologians twist this verse to teach that Paul brought an end to Torah itself.
2 Corinthians 3:12. Seeing therefore we have this hope, we the more, speak with boldness; 13. And are not like Moshe, who threw a veil over his face that the children of Israel might not behold the termination of that (condemnation) which was abolished. 14. But they were blinded in their understanding because until this day, when the Ancient Covenant is read, the same veil rests upon them; nor is it manifest (to them), that it (condemnation) is abolished by the Mashiyach.
15. And to this day, when Moshe is read, a veil is thrown upon their hearts. 16. But when any of them is turned to Master YHWH, the veil is taken from him. 17. Now Master YHWH Himself is the Spirit. And where the Spirit of Master YHWH is, there is freedom. 18. And we all, with uncovered faces, behold as in a mirror the glory of Master YHWH; and are transformed into the same likeness, from glory to glory, as by Master YHWH the Spirit. (AENT)
NOTE 7: The reading of Torah does not blind, nor does the reading of the “Renewed Covenant” bring Grace: but in each, one must “turn to Master YHWH with their hearts” to remove the veil. MarYah/YHWH is used here, rather than Y’shua.
Rather than people turning to Y’shua as the deciding factor, the point is that both Jews and Gentiles must be truthful, and not just use prayers or Scripture readings as some sort of magical incantation, but to turn their hearts to YHWH. In many places Y’shua teaches that he came to bring Glory to the Father, and to turn hearts unto YHWH.